Being a successful angler revolves around having the right kind of gear and tackle to get the job done. If you’re going to use the best baitcaster combo for the fish you’re going after, you’ll have to do your homework and make sure you select the right option.
In this article, we’ll list some of our picks for the best baitcaster combo for bass and explain some of the features and performance characteristics that each one offers.
Best Baitcaster Combo: Our Top Picks
The KastKing Crixus is clearly one of the best choices when it comes to saltwater fishing options among baitcaster combos. This rod combo offers a lightweight IM6 graphite rod that's capable of handling most larger-sized fish among other features in both the rod and reel. The Crixus' reel is made with double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a CNC aluminum spool that is capable of withstanding the highly-corrosive properties associated with saltwater fishing.
It’s easy to name the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo as our best freshwater fishing rod and reel setup. It’s one that is incredibly smooth and capable of allowing anglers to use a range of heavy lure presentations, as well as finesse fishing techniques you might expect to need a spinning rod for. This is a tough baitcaster combo that delivers excellent smoothness and accuracy in casting and retrieval.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a better budget-friendly baitcasting combo than the Shakespeare Alpha. This rod and reel offer everything you might look for in a decent baitcasting combo that won't break the bank. It is made with an adjustable magnetic cast control system, as well as a moderately smooth and powerful drag system. The Alpha Baitcasting Combo is a great starter version for beginner or novice anglers looking to purchase their first baitcasting setup.
Best Baitcaster Combos: Full Reviews
The Lews Mach 2 SLP Baitcast Combo is arguably one of the most versatile baitcaster rod and reel that you’ll find in today’s fishing industry. This rod and reel combo is perfect for bass fishing and features a durable graphite frame, as well as a graphite composite rod that’s both lightweight and tough enough to handle any type of fish. The rod is made with stainless steel guides that also come with aluminum oxide inserts. The reel is exceptionally smooth and capable of holding up against any fish species thanks to solid internal parts that include an anodized aluminum spool.
- Stainless steel guides and ball bearings
- Lightweight graphite rod blank & graphite frame reel
- Externally adjustable Magnetic Control System
The Abu Garcia Black Max is our pick for the best Baitcasting combo for bass, it has a stellar price point, is affordable for the casual angler, and has the features normally found on a rod and reel at a much higher price point. Let’s take a look at this rod and reel setup.
KastKing is one of the newer brands in the fishing industry, but they’re already producing some of the better baitcasting rods and reels. This one is made with an IM6 graphite rod blank that’s a perfect fit for the lightweight combo reel it’s paired with. It’s made with a CNC aluminum spool, as well as shielded stainless steel ball bearings that are designed to resist saltwater corrosion. This reel’s features and quality make it our top choice when it comes to saltwater fishing gear.
- CNC-machined aluminum spool
- Best baitcaster combos for saltwater fishing
- Excellent drag power for big fish
The Tailored Tackle Baitcasting Combo might not be as well-known as other baitcasting reels, but it’s a clear favorite for anglers when it comes to selecting the best baitcasting combo. It’s ideal for bass fishing and features a 6.3:1 gear ratio that’s exceptionally quick and smooth thanks to a 6+1 stainless steel ball bearing system. It’s a medium action rod that’s built with a casting reel that’s perfect for freshwater fishing for a number of species.
- Speedy 6.3:1 gear ratio
- Smooth casting rod and reel combo
- Medium heavy rod
Lews enjoys a stellar reputation with the fishing community because they're known for producing outstanding quality fishing equipment and fishing tackle. The Mach Crush is an easy addition to our list of the best baitcasting combos for a number of reasons. The reel is made with 10 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings as well as a one-way clutch. It's also among the best baitcaster combos in terms of speed thanks to its blazing-fast 7.5:1 gear ratio.
- Speedy 7.5:1 gear ratio is great for a variety of different lure presentations
- Baitcasting reel that's built for freshwater or saltwater fishing
- 10 Double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings deliver a smooth fishing experience
The Ugly Stik brand is well-known for making incredibly tough baitcaster rods and other products. There’s little debate whether the Ugly Stik GX2 Baitcaster Combo is among the best baitcasting combo options you’ll find in today’s market. It features the Ugly Stik brand’s characteristic graphite rod that’s also made with the specialized Ugly Stik Clear Tip, as well as adjustable magnetic cast control in the reel. The GX2 offers unmatched toughness compared to other lightweight casting combos thanks to its graphite construction in both the rod features and baitcasting setup reel.
- Lightweight graphite construction in both rod and reel material
- Nearly indestructible baitcast rod & adjustable magnetic cast control
- Great lightweight rod and reel that’s comparable to a spinning rod
The Quantum Pulse is another worthy addition to our list of the best baitcaster combo options this season. This rod and reel combo packs in a number of premium features that combine for a smooth casting technique and the ability to use heavy cranking or even finesse fishing techniques. It has a fast 6.6:1 gear ratio, as well as the ability to be spooled with braided fishing lines or mono and fluoro line as well. This one is typically priced at under $100 at most online retail stores that sell baitcasting rod and reel combo options.
- Smooth and fast reel action with 6.6:1 gear ratio
- Lightweight rod and reel thanks to graphite frame and rod
- Smaller casting rod for excellent accuracy
The Shakespeare Alpha Baitcaster combo is easily the best budget-friendly option among our list of the best baitcasting combo options this year. It features a range of features that are designed to allow anglers to fish in freshwater or saltwater environments. The Alpha Baitcaster combo comes with an adjustable magnetic cast control system, as well as durable and lightweight graphite rods and reels. The medium-weight rod is built to allow anglers to catch a wide variety of different fish species.
- Great entry-level rod and reel combo
- Plenty of cranking power thanks to the 3.3:1 gear ratio
- Corrosion and chemical-resistant stainless steel ball-bearing system
Our list of the best baitcasting rod and reel combos wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Lews Mach I Speed Spool Baitcaster Combo. This aptly-named rod and reel combo offers everything you need when it comes to targeting big fish. With an 8 ball bearing system and a speedy 7.5:1 gear ratio, this baitcaster combo is both fast and smooth. The fishing rod is made of IM8 graphite blank material for handling larger-sized fish as well.
- Highly versatile baitcasting combo fishing rod and reel
- Very fast 7.5:1 gear ratio
- Dual cast control system
Another outstanding Abu Garcia addition to our list of the best baitcaster combos is the Jordan Lee rod combo. This one is reasonably-priced and full of premium-quality features that you might typically expect to find in a high-end baitcasting reel combo. It's built with a 24-ton graphite rod blank that's made at medium-heavy power to give you the ability to handle bigger fish. The reel's HCPR stainless steel ball bearings are crafted so that they will hold up well against saltwater or chemical corrosion.
- Rod features specially designed for long-distance casting
- Quick 6.4:1 gear ratio
- Rod is made of 24-ton graphite, meaning it's both tough and lightweight
How to Choose a Baitcaster Combo – Buying Guide
When it comes to selecting the baitcasting rod and reel combo that’s just right for your own specific needs, there are a number of characteristics that you will want to pay attention to before purchasing any single option. Each of these areas of interest will have a major impact on the overall feel and performance of the baitcasting combo in terms of casting, retrieval, and fish-catching ability.
Most anglers would agree that having the right gear ratio makes a huge difference in your baitcaster combo’s overall effectiveness when it comes to fishing for certain types of fish. It’s perfectly fine to go with a rod and reel that offers a slower gear ratio of roughly 5.0:1 or slower when you plan to use live bait or to fish with artificial lures that won’t necessarily need to be reeled very fast through the water.
These slower gear ratio reels are often designed to deliver more cranking power than anything else and are solid options for anglers who intend to catch larger-sized fish that will truly test their reel’s drag system.
There are times when a slower ratio simply isn’t sufficient, however. This is typically the case for anglers who prefer to fish with certain lures that require you to pause the retrieve for several seconds at a time or perhaps to even burn the lure through the water at a more rapid pace to pique a fish’s interest and entice them to chase after it and bite.
Reels that offer a fast gear ratio are generally considered to be anything more than 6.3:1 when it comes to baitcaster combos. Anglers who like to use topwater lures, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and similar options will likely be better suited with a combo that offers a faster gear ratio. It’s often recommended to use a reel that has a 7.5:1 gear ratio or more for certain lure presentations.
The spool size of any baitcasting rod and reel often plays a major role in the reel’s performance in a number of different ways. First, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to select the right size spool in order to have the right amount of fishing line on your rod and reel setup.
If you have a smaller-sized spool that doesn’t hold much line, you’re setting yourself up for an unsavory outcome if you happen to catch a large fish that will make especially hard runs and pull significant amounts of line off the spool.
A good rule of thumb in terms of reel size and the relationship it has to how much line you’ll need is to think about it in terms of the size of the fish you’re going after. If you are aiming to catch smaller-sized fish, you can usually get away with a small spool that doesn’t hold as much line.
If you are fishing for larger-sized fish that are sure to put your reel’s drag to the test and strip away dozens of yards at a time on each run, you’re going to need a larger spool size. Having a larger spool will also affect the angler’s ability to stop the spool at the right time and prevent backlash.
It’s often good to select a reel that is equipped with a magnetic brake system that will help slow the rotational speed of the spool before you have to place your thumb on it to stop the line. Failing to stop the spool once your lure hits the water will almost always result in those pesky backlashes that often turn out to be extremely frustrating.
When it comes to the handle size on a baitcasting rod and reel, the many different options are mostly separated by each angler’s personal preference. It’s understandable for some anglers to prefer the smaller double handle models in a low profile baitcasting setup as this might help them turn the handle more quickly and result in getting the most speed possible.
Some anglers usually prefer a handle that is larger and only has one thumb rest as opposed to two. This single handle design is more common on round baitcasting reels and larger options that are meant for going after bigger fish as the larger single handle is often going to result in the angler having more cranking power.
If you plan to go after larger-sized fish, it’s likely that you’ll be better equipped with a larger single handle reel than one with a smaller double handle design. An easy way to remember this is that a bigger fish will often require you to use a bigger handle.
Brakes & Tension
It’s always important to have the right amount of tension and braking on your reel, if possible. This is especially true when it comes to beginners and novice anglers, who are often not quite capable of stopping the spool’s rotation once it hits the water on each cast.
The result of failing to stop the spool at the right time is always a tangled mess of lines that is known as a backlash. These backlashes can sometimes take more than an hour to untangle properly and might even require you to take the reel apart and re-spool the fresh fishing line to solve the problem.
By selecting a reel that has a magnetic brake system, you can often avoid the headaches associated with backlashing your reel. You might also want to have a reel that allows you to easily adjust the spool tension using external knobs and dials. Having this option will allow you to set the spool tension just right so that you won’t miss any bites.
It’s often said that having more ball bearings in a reel almost always results in a smoother performance. This is actually true for the most part, but the smoothness of a reel sometimes comes down to how well-machined the bearings are, as well as how precise the gears fit together as well.
When searching for the right baitcasting rod and reel combo, it’s important that you select one with ball bearings that are made to withstand saltwater corrosion if you plan to fish in any type of saltwater environment. If you only plan to use the reel in freshwater, it’s not necessarily as important to have corrosion-resistant capabilities.
There are a number of different types of bearings on baitcaster reels that facilitate the operation of the spool, gears, knobs, or even the wind level devices. Having the right amount and type of bearings will greatly improve the reel’s overall performance in terms of smoothness and casting distance, as well as the ability to easily retrieve the lure with little resistance.
One of the more overlooked properties of any baitcasting rod and reel combo is the material that the rod is made out of. Most anglers simply assume that all rods are created equal, but experienced fishermen know that this is not the case.
Most combos that are more reasonably priced are going to be made of graphite material since this is more lightweight and offers better sensitivity compared to fiberglass material. Fiberglass rods are often highly durable and are preferred by anglers who usually target monster-sized fish, but you will sacrifice a certain level of sensitivity that is often needed when it comes to using certain types of lures.
The best possible type of rod material is often a blend of both graphite and fiberglass. These rod blanks that combine both materials tend to offer the best of both worlds in terms of sensitivity and overall durability.
Rod Length & Pieces
As you might have guessed, the rod’s length is often just as important as any other characteristic. Having the wrong-sized rod will usually result in a very inefficient effort depending on the type of fish you’re going after.
If you want to focus on having a rod that offers as much strength and durability as possible, it’s better to opt for a shorter model that’s about 6′ in length. Most avid offshore anglers who fish for larger-sized saltwater game fish will use a shorter, thicker rod instead of a longer one.
If it’s the casting distance you’re going for, having a longer rod will give you more launch power and help you use the rod more like a catapult to send lures out farther. Be careful that you don’t select a rod that’s too long as this will cause you to lose power when it comes to fighting and landing bigger fish.
Rod Action & Power
One of the most easily-confused aspects of fishing rods is the action and power. These are sometimes assumed to be the same thing but are actually two completely different characteristics that anglers should pay close attention to in order to get the best possible rod for their fishing trips.
A rod’s power refers to the degree to which the rod bends throughout its entire length. A lighter power rod will be narrow and will bend more toward the end, while a thicker, heavier rod will usually bend to a lesser degree.
The rod’s action is a reference to the specific part of the rod where this bend occurs. On a heavy rod that is a slow action, you can expect the rod to bend throughout its entire length from the handle to the tip. With a fast-action rod, you can expect there to be a much greater degree of bending that will often occur at the upper third portion of the rod.
When it comes to fishing for smaller fish species, it’s better to choose a lighter rod that offers faster action while fishing for larger-sized species will usually require the use of a heavier, slower-action rod.